Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Judge Williamson of Monroe County Denies Summary Judgment in Premises Liability Case Based on Constructive Notice Issue

In Signorile v. Fernwood Hotel and Resort, PICS Case No. 13-1525 (C.P. Monroe Co. May 29, 2013 Williamson, J.), Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas denied a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a premises liability case.  
Judge David J. Williamson
Monroe County

According to a summary of the Opinion, the Plaintiff was allegedly injured on the Defendant’s premises when she entered the sauna area of the resort and stepped on a rusty screw which pierced her foot.

After discovery on the matter, the Defendant moved for summary judgment asserting that the Plaintiff failed to establish actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition of the screw on the floor that allegedly caused the Plaintiff’s injury. 

Reviewing the record in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff as required by the applicable standard of review, Judge Williamson noted that there was evidence presented that, at the time of the incident, a pool attendant was monitoring the area.   The record before the court also established that all pool attendants received three (3) days of training during which they were instructed to sweep the area once every hour.  

Judge Williamson stated in his Opinion that “[t]he amount of time that a dangerous condition existed is one of the most important factors when analyzing whether a Defendant has constructive notice” of a dangerous condition.  

In this matter, the Court found that their was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether or not the Defendant had constructive notice of the screw being present on the deck of the pool at the time of the accident.   The Court stated that there was evidence presented that the screw could have been on the floor for an hour that the issue of constructive notice remained an open issue of fact to be decided by the jury at trial.  

Stated otherwise, the Court found there was a jury issue as to whether or not the Defendants had the reasonable ability to discover and correct the problem before the Plaintiff’s alleged injury.  

The court also noted that the Plaintiff testified that she had a conversation with two (2) witnesses who believed that the screw came from a nearby sauna door that had a maintenance problem.    Judge Williamson further noted that, if a jury were to believe the testimony of those witnesses, that evidence was also enough to create a genuine issue of material fact on the constructive notice issue.  

Accordingly, the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was denied thereby preventing the Plaintiff from getting screwed twice. 

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may contact the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly by calling 1-800-276-7427, providing the above referenced PICS Case No. and paying a small fee.    

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions," Pennsylvania Law Weekly (August 27, 2013)”    

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